98% of attempts to lose weight will fail (Centers for Disease Control). So why do we do it?
As a young woman today, it is almost impossible to avoid the societal pressures of diet culture and being a certain size and shape. Thinness is related to health and moral virtue.
We spoke to Rachel Anne Hobbs - dietitian, therapist, and eating disorder specialist - about how to heal your relationship with food and find peace with your body.
A healthy relationship with food and your body is different for everyone. A few ways this could look:
- Not feeling guilt or shame around foods you eat or the shape of your body.
- Allowing yourself to eat all foods.
- Not basing your self-worth on what you consume.
- Not missing out on social occasions.
- Not allowing thoughts about food to dominate your day.
Rachel recommends five ways to start your healing journey.
1 - Physical nourishment
Eating enough, regularly. Use The Healing Threes structure - three meals and three snacks per day; don’t leave longer than three hours between eating episodes. This balances blood glucose levels and reduces physiological triggers to binge eat.
2 - Scrap the food rules
Unlearning beliefs that you might have about certain foods. Write out all your current food beliefs and question them - where did I learn it from? Is it a true belief? Is it helpful? Then think about what beliefs are actually helpful to have.
3 - Feel your feelings
Eating for reasons other than hunger is normal and completely healthy. But when it becomes your only way of dealing with emotions it’s not helpful. Tune in to your feelings and work out what you actually need. It’s often not food. One way to start this is to have a 2-minute pause between having the thought about eating and engaging in the behaviour. This allows you to become more conscious of the decision you’re making and if that’s what you need.
4 - Get informed about diet culture
The desire to take up less space is intergenerational. Expand your knowledge on diet culture, where it came from, and the value system it’s created. If you’re more informed, you’ll make better choices. Some reading to get you started - Sabrina Strings investigates the racial origins of fat phobia in her book Fearing the Black Body.
5 - Make life bigger
Life is more than the relationship with our bodies and food. If you spend a lot of time planning, prepping, and thinking about food then that’s probably not improving your relationship with food. Make time to play, be creative, socialise and have conscious relaxation.
Rachel has a 16-week course - A Journey To Fullness - to help you make peace with your body. I am 12-weeks in and couldn’t recommend it enough. Feel free to reach out if you’d like to talk any of this through.